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After 28 years in sales and marketing, I have some memories that are especially sweet. One particular sale took place when I was vice president of sales and marketing for a small business out of McAllen, Texas. I was developing new service contracts for us in El Paso, home to our new region.
I had already sold two major service contracts there, and I was striving to help a customer agree to use our company to maintain their PCs and printers in Ciudad. Juarez. This became "the easiest sale I ever made."
Discovery Meetings and Discussions Ran for Weeks
My meetings with the IT manager for the plants in Mexico and the warehouse in El Paso had been going on for several weeks. We would meet, I would ask questions about what he needed and wanted then I would return with a proposal to provide what he told me. What he wanted initially would have cost him $15,000 per month. His budget couldn't handle that so we kept refining what we could do for the amount he could afford.
He Now Saw Me Working with Him on the "Same Side of the Desk"
Finally, after several of these meetings, one day he stated, "here's what I need in order to get you a purchase order." If I had been alone at that moment I would have shouted and cheered. I was so excited because at that moment I felt the shift from salesman to partner. He obviously realized that I really was there for him, not just for the sale.
We reached an agreement for a $5,200 per month maintenance contract to cover his servers and main network printers. We also agreed to certain guarantees, like two spare Compaq PC servers. The potential, when we performed, was three times that.
From the Beginning, I Was There to Provide a Service that He Wanted
The point here is that my customer bought a $62,200 annual maintenance contract because I went in to serve him and his company. This wasn't the type of sale where I told him what he was going to do. Rather, from the beginning, I was there to provide a service that he wanted. He knew that he had a potentially serious problem if his servers or network printers went down. By agreeing to the spares, we gave him peace of mind.
Additionally, when he realized that, while I wanted the sale and was working very hard to earn it, I was really there to help him. I did not push him for just another $1,000. I accepted his current limitations and felt we would get more when he could demonstrate to his plant managers how valuable and reliable our service was.
Despite decades of sales which went smoothly, I consider this $5,000 per month maintenance contract "the easiest sale I ever made." The reason for that is I felt the shift when my prospect finally trusted me to be more interested in his needs than in my wallet. This came about because I asked questions, listened and responded to his answers, and revised my quotes to meet his needs as they changed. This is my ideal sale, where my prospect and I work together to get a solution he or she wants.
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